Flash Fiction – Heart of Stone May 25, 2012Posted by techtigger in flash fiction.
Tags: #fridayflash, flash fiction, Nox and Grimm
Nox woke to the sound of the water clock by her bed chiming the hour. It took her a moment to remember why the room was still pitch black at 7am. She sighed, swung her feet over the edge of the bed and felt around with her toes until she found her slippers. It was foolish to think she would wake up one morning and have her sight back. Even so, she could not quite squash the faint bit of hope that her mother’s spell might unravel over time. Today was not to be the day, however.
Her clothes were laid out across a nearby chair, a simple skirt and chemise that could be pulled on with a minimum of fuss. She navigated slowly around the room, guided by small puffs of air from casting marks her father had placed on all the furniture. Colder drafts marked the left side, warmer ones on the right and anything fragile would whistle a warning if she got too close.
“I’m living in a pipe organ,” Nox grumbled, as she checked the seams with her fingers to make sure nothing was on inside out. “Don’t get me wrong, I like getting around by myself. But it’s so much easier when I can look through your eyes, Grimm”
Grimm let out an amused snort. “Your father does not want me ‘lurking’ about your bedchamber. He does have a point; I am only a hound on the outside.”
Nox counted out the steps to her door, and the world blossomed into color and shape as Grimm moved to her side and joined their thoughts. “Yeah, I guess having you in here would be – “
“ – scandalous.”
“I was going to say inappropriate,” Nox said, with an impish grin.
Grimm chuckled. “If Loki ever caught me in there that mountain would blow again, and this time he would not bother to stop it.”
Nox laughed with him but her smile faded a little. As one, they moved to look out the floor-length windows that ran along the far end of her suite. They were both thinking about their aborted attempt to go visit Loki the previous day. The mountains in the distance no longer glowed, but a steady stream of smoke still rose from their peaks in ashen plumes.
“Were you able to see what triggered mother’s spell again?” Nox asked.
The hound sat beside her, which put his head on the same level as hers. “Yes, it’s your immune system. Normally when you encounter that much heat your body draws on your elements to act as a buffer. But when you channel Ice or Air, the spell tries to cut off the energy.”
“And I end up in a twitching heap on the ground. Lovely.” She leaned her head against the glass. “What about taking a source of cold with me? I could have father craft an enchantment.”
“I thought of that, but your system is so starved for the elements that it will try to absorb anything stronger than ambient energy to replenish itself. Which will set off the spell.” Grimm said, his ears flicking forward and back as he pondered their options. “We could try to suppress your immune system for a short time, but that has its own risks.”
Nox nodded, toting up the pros and cons in her head. “We’d have to do it carefully, let it down in stages over time to test it.”
“It is certainly worth investigating,” Grimm said, his tail swishing slowly across the marble floor. “Spending some time around Fire energy would help wear away your mother’s spell. And it might do Loki good to see you as well. I do not like the reports Anders sent, he should be getting more active as he finishes the casting, not less.”
“I know. I’m worried too,” Nox said. There was always a risk that someone merging so closely with the natural world would forget who they were, and become one with the elements forever. Loki had spent a month locked in a struggle to quiet the volcano, longer than she or anyone else had expected. One of the elders from House Vulcan was coming to help, but it would be at least another week before they arrived. She looked up at the smoking peaks. “We’re going to try again today.”
The mountain was living thing, a vast earthen beast with molten rock in its veins. Loki held it in chains made of scarlet light, but it held him as well, bearing down on him till he thought his bones would crack from the weight. Its foul breath polluted the air, choking him even as he pulled tighter on the chains to choke it into submission.
Pain roused him from the nightmare, but he woke to find his dream a reality. Lava had flowed in around him, nearly filling the chamber. Only his head and part of his chest were free, and his arms strained backwards as if he had tried to hold back the flow with his bare hands. He had fallen asleep and nearly lost control of the casting.
Fatigue sapped his strength. He had no idea how long he had been down here, the days blurring in the endless flow of energy he channeled to lull the mountain into dormancy. He was beginning to forget why he even bothered.
A faint voice called to him. “Red! Can you hear me?”
The voice belonged to Anders, not Nox. She had not come to see him in all the time he had labored there in the dark. He suspected that Anders was lying about her surviving the Shadowkin attack. He should have been upset about that but it took Fire to move his heart, and his was slowly turning to stone along with the mountain he tamed. The casting was turning in on its caster. That probably should have worried him too…
Anders voice sounded distant. “Hang on Red. I’m going to get help!”
This flashfic is part of an ongoing web serial, updated regularly as a part of #fridayflash on twitter. If you are new to Nox and Grimm, you can Click Here to read from the beginning.